Men’s rugby looks to be national contender

The UVM men’s rugby club, an SGA-recognized club since 1978, began its 30th season last week with a 12-3 win against nearby rival and division foe St. Michael’s.

The team came into the game with a preseason ranking of #19 nationwide. Head coach Declan Connelly seemed happy with the team’s victory, but thought that his players were sloppy at times and need to be more prepared for upcoming tests such as an away matchup against Middlebury on Sept. 27, a game the team looks at as one of their toughest regular season games.

“It wasn’t as good a performance as we would have liked,” Connelly said. “We’ve had a couple preseason scrimmage games where we played quite well, so although we won we’d like to play a little bit better.”

The rugby team is led this year by club president Charlie Powell. Although Connelly says that he looks to Powell as one of his most reliable players and leaders, Powell modestly added, “In the previous years we’ve had a lot of superstars come through, but I think the quality of rugby have improved since then. I wouldn’t say any one of us stands out among the rest. We’re a solid squad.”

After climbing as high as #13 nationally last season, the team expects another very successful year, and their solidity at every position puts them in a good place to do so. Both Connelly and Powell seemed very confident about the team’s chances and have high expectations for what they will accomplish this year.

“I expect us to win all of our regular season games,” Powell said. “I anticipate Middlebury to be our biggest opponent, but beginning the season with a strong head of steam should carry us through it. Just watching these guys practice at 7 a.m. every morning … I have a good feeling about it.”

The rugby club is looking for more support at its home games. Its next home match is against UMass-Amherst on Oct. 4 during Homecoming weekend.